Mastering Creative Anxiety By Eric Maisel, Ph.D. (2)

6. Cognitive work
Changing the way you think is probably the most useful and powerful anti-anxiety strategy. You can do this straightforwardly by 1) noticing what you are saying to yourself; 2) disputing the self-talk that makes you anxious or does not serve you; and 3) substituting more affirmative, positive or useful self-talk. This three-step process really works if you will practice it and commit to it.

7. Incanting
A variation on strategies five and six is to use them together and to “drop” a useful cognition into a deep breath, thinking “half” the thought on the inhale and “half” the thought on the exhale. Incantations that might serve to reduce your experience of anxiety might are “I am perfectly calm” or “I trust my resources.” Experiment with some short phrases and find one or two that, when dropped into a deep breath, help you quell your anxious feelings.

8. Physical relaxation techniques
Physical relaxation techniques include such simple procedures as rubbing your shoulder and such elaborate procedures as “progressive relaxation techniques” where you slowly relax each part of your body in turn. Doing something physically soothing probably does not amount to a full anxiety management practice but can prove really useful in the moment to help you calm yourself and when used in combination with your cognitive practice.

9. Mindfulness techniques
Meditation and other mindfulness practices that help you take charge of your thoughts and get a grip on your mind can prove very useful as part of your anxiety management program. It is not so important to become a practiced “sitter” or to spend long periods of time meditating but rather to truly grasp the idea that the contents of your mind create anxiety and that the better a job you do of releasing those thoughts and replacing them with more affirmative ones, the less you will experience anxiety.

10. Guided imagery
Guided imagery is a technique where you guide yourself to calmness by mentally picturing a calming image or a series of images. You might picture yourself on a blanket by the beach, walking by a lake, or swinging on a porch swing. You can use single snapshot images or combine images to such an extent that you end up with the equivalent of a short relaxation film that you play for yourself. The first step is to determine what images actually calm you by trying out various images and then, once you’ve landed on images that have the right calming effect, actually bring them to mind when you are feeling anxious.

will be continued …

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